Inequality in Opportunities in Health in France: A first pass
This article analyses the role played by childhood circumstances, especially social and family background in explaining health status among older adults. We also explore the hypothesis of an intergenerational transmission of health inequalities using the French part of SHARE. As the impact of both social background and parents’ health on health status in adulthood represent circumstances independent of individual responsibility, this study allows us to test for the existence in France of inequalities of opportunity in health related to family and social background. Empirically, our study relies both on tests of stochastic dominance at first order and multivariate regressions, supplemented by a counterfactual analysis to evaluate the longlasting impact of childhood conditions on inequality in health. Allocating the best circumstances in both parents’ SES and parents’ health reduces inequality in health by an impressive 57% using the Gini coefficient. The mother’s social status has a direct effect on the health of her offspring. By contrast, the effect on the descendant’s health from the father’s social status is indirect only, going through the descendant’s social status as an adult. There is also a direct effect of each parent’s health on health in adulthood.
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